Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM)

Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM)


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The RCM process was first envisioned by the commercial aviation industry in the 1960s when it was discovered that the standard process of overhauling aircraft after a given number of flight hours led to little or no improvement in system reliability or safety. To address these issues, the Federal Aviation Administration, in partnership with the aviation industry, created a working group of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to study the Preventive Maintenance (PM) process and make recommendations for improvements to maintenance practices and planning. Since that time, the RCM process has continued to evolve into the numerous RCM methods that are available today.

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Product Description

The series name has a double meaning:
(1) the spelling of the name r-e-l-e-a-s-e indicates that the series is intended to “release“ the non-expert down the path to reliable products and
(2) the complementary terms “REL” with “ease”, implying the series goal of “reliability made easy.”

Of course, reliability success is seldom easy, requiring expertise and tailoring with tradeoffs addressing life-cycle costs and other issues, but we hope that the series will help those not familiar with reliability practices understand the basics.

While it is unlikely that the reader will become an instant expert in reliability by reading the RELease guides, it is likely that he/she will gain a better appreciation of the basic tools that lead to designing and building reliability into products and systems. The number of pages in each guide is intentionally limited to address only the basics, with comprehensive authoritative references listed for those wanting to know more. The initial set of guides will be continuously expanded in the future. Please let us know how the series can be improved to meet your needs in introducing reliability to the non-expert, or suggest other topics you would like to see developed.

Additional information

File Type:



Richard Wisniewski





Publication Date:

December 2013

Table of Contents

1. What is Reliability-Centered Maintenance       3
  1.1. Cost-Benefit Tradeoff     5
2. Reliability-Centered Maintenance Terminology       6
3. The Process       9
  3.1. Applicable Methods     9
  3.2. Required Inputs     10
  3.3. Process Flow     10
  3.4. Applications and Tailoring     12
4. The Details       13
  4.1. Planning     13
  4.2. System Partitioning     14
  4.3. Failure Modes, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA)     15
    4.3.1. Functions   16
    4.3.2. Functional Failure Analysis   16
    4.3.3. Failure Modes   17
    4.3.4. Failure Effects   17
    4.3.5. Severity of Failure Effects   18
    4.3.6. Probability of Occurrence   18
    4.3.7. Criticality   19
  4.4. Significant Function Selection     20
  4.5. RCM Decision Logic Analysis     20
    4.5.1. Types of Preventive Maintenance Tasks   22
    4.5.2. Preventive Maintenance Task Selection   23
    4.5.3. Timing Considerations for Condition Directed and Time Directed Tasks   24
    4.5.4. Servicing and Lubrication Tasks   25
  4.6. Task Selection     26
  4.7. Implementation/Task Packaging     26
  4.8. Sustainment     27
5. Example       28
  5.1. Partitioning Example     28
  5.2. Failure Modes, Effects and Criticality Analysis Example     29
6. For More Information       31

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